First, I apologize for not blogging last Tuesday. I just didn't have the time or the energy to write since it was my travel day to Albuquerque for the Gay Rom Lit retreat. We left for the airport at the crack-ass of dawn - four in the freaking morning. The flight was long, and the desert was dry, and the need for caffeine was making me feel like a junkie in need of a fix. Seriously, by the time we got to the coffee shop at the Hard Rock hotel, I was ready to suck the caffeine out from under the barista's fingernails.
We spent a lot of time in the coffee shop, called "Chill." Luckily, they brewed Starbucks coffee, which made me happy since the coffee served elsewhere in the hotel tasted like moose piss. Although truthfully, I've never actually drank moose piss, so I can't vouch for the similarity, but I imagine it would taste like really bad coffee. Maybe with a mossy aftertaste. In any case, it wouldn't be pleasant, and my point is that the coffee served elsewhere in the hotel was really, really bad. So bad that the restaurants didn't even charge for it, because even they knew how bad it was. Moose piss bad.
The coffee in Chill was fabulous though, and I drank enough of it to float my kidneys back home to Florida.
For those of you who didn't attend the conference, let me describe the location of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to you. Picture miles of barren desert and mountains. Then picture a hotel stuck squarely in the middle of it. That's where we were. Miles from anything. Unless you had the foresight to rent a car (which we didn't, of course), you were stuck there, at the mercy of the in-house restaurants.
Happily, the food at the hotel was not only usually good, but very reasonably priced. There were five places diners could choose from, and all were tasty and priced well, in my opinion, from the high-end steakhouse called "Embers" to the tiny counter-service grill in the casino.
A word of warning; in New Mexico, they put chilli on everything. Seriously, I bought chocolate at a candy store in Old Town in Albuquerque, and there was freaking chili in it.
In. The. Chocolate.
Aside from perpetually fiery tastebuds, I had a fabulous time at the conference. My swag consisted of decks of nude male playing cards, and they seemed to be a hit. At least, I brought almost four hundred decks with me, and only had a half-dozen left by the end of the weekend. I also brought little hand-sculpted zombie keychains, rainbow colored bubbles, t-shirts, and a few other swaggy items, all of which went. Even my books sold at the signing. In the end, I shipped home only a fraction of what I'd brought.
The very best part of the con was seeing old friends and fans, and making new ones. It seemed I never got anywhere on time because I was constantly stopping along the way to chat with this person, or hug that one. It was terrific, and humbling, and makes me wish it was next October already so we could do it all over again.
I participated in a Q&A with Anel Viz, AKM Miles, and Marie Sexton, moderated by Kris Jacen, and stopped in at the Torquere Press, Dreamspinner, Loose Id, and MLR Press spotlights,since I'm published with all of them.
I think the best times I had were at lunch and dinner with friends and fans. I think I ate with different people every meal! I only wish we'd had more down time during the weekend to just sit around and chat. It seemed like we were on the go constantly from morning until night every day.
Next year, the conference will be held in Atlanta. That makes four cons I'll be attending in Georgia next year, but since it's within driving distance, it's all good.
Plus, I know the location of every Starbucks between my house and Atlanta, and will no doubt stop at each and every one both going and coming.
Anyway, back at this year's GRL, booze flowed like a proverbial river. We drank margaritas,sangria, cocktails, and beer (usually trying to douse the fire from the chili). There were male strippers (yeah, you haven't lived until you've watched Damon Suede shake his booty onstage with a stripper in red sequins), karaoke (Geoff Knight singing "Summer Nights" T.C. Blue grooving to "Black Velvet" and Jarod doing his best Cher impersonation were highlights, in my opinion), piano drinking games, and so much more!
On the return trip, my suitcase was weighted down with books, none of which were my own. I participated in the GRL Reading Challenge run by Mantastic Fiction this year, and went fan gurl on some of my favorite writers, buying their books to take home with me.
If there was one thing not missing from this year's con, it was hot m/m romance! There were tons of it, in every sub-genre imaginable, from sweet to sizzling, and I fully immersed myself in all of it.
It was a terrific con, and I can't wait for next year!